Aug 15, 2017

Why Complaining About 'An Ember in The Ashes' Cover Changes is Problematic

Look, I hate mid-series cover changes as much as the next person. I was one book away from completing Jennifer L. Armentrout's Obsidian series when they decided to change the covers. It's frustrating. We, as bookworms, take pride in the appearance of our bookshelves and our biggest compliment is "BOOKSHELF GOALS". 

On August 14th, released an article with the new covers for An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir. The series was two books in and had two more books to go. People were overjoyed, all those brown girls were finally seeing themselves on a best-selling book cover. That was until the hate started pouring in. 
Readers were upset about the mid-series cover change and it was completely disrespectful. I'm not talking about disrespect to the author, publisher, or the cover artist. No, it was disrespectful to every single POC, especially those of brown skin. This wasn't just any other cover change, but a cover change to bring unity and diversity to a very diverse community. This was about showing brown girls (and guys) that they belong in this community, that not all YA is about white protagonists where, sometimes, a brown kids play the nerdy sidekick. With the recent success of books like When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon and Soulmated by Shaila Patel, I finally felt like we were starting to gain some wins and become more inclusive. 
It's not that these teens who were against the cover changes were necessarily racists or bigots, but it is more likely that they were ignorant in the implications of their tweets. They didn't realize that their tweets were hurting those POC who were finally celebrating and dampening their happiness.

To those who continue to be upset, the display of your bookshelf is not more important than the diversity and inclusivity that these covers provide. Racial equality and inclusivity are always at the forefront. Imagine that one day a young teen of brown skin walks into a bookstore against their will but sees An Ember in the Ashes and is overjoyed. That could very well start the journey of their love for reading as they were able to relate to the character in a deeper way and could picture themselves on that cover.

We should be trying to encourage more people to read and pick up books and hopefully, these covers do just that. Covers are meant to draw readers towards the novel and I applaud and thank any and every person who was involved in the decision to put a brown girl on the cover. 

Congrats to Sabaa Tahir on the new covers!

Aug 14, 2017

ARC Review: Beast by Elizabeth Reyes

Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Series: Boyle Heights #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Number of Pages: 337

"She holds the power to tame theBeast . . .
or unleash him if he lets her in.
This close to turning his life around and just months away from the end of his probation, all Leo has to do is keep his inner demons in check.
But the Beast within is about to be reawakened.
One interview was all it was supposed to be. An interview with the daunting felon in the work-release program that leaves Allison breathless with anticipation for their next encounter.
Despite the risks of becoming involved, neither is able to fight the inexplicable draw they’re feeling.
Life keeps throwing them back together until the fateful night they stop fighting the inevitable and give into their desires. Suddenly, Leo has even more to look forward to in his new life.
Until his violent past catches up to him.
With the stakes infinitely higher now that Allison may also be at risk, the dormant Beast deep inside Leo threatens to unleash, ruining all the progress he’s made—worst of all any future with Allison."
Beast was another great novel by Elizabeth Reyes in the spinoff series to 5th Street. I loved being able to see all the 5th Street boys and seeing Lila and Sonny. 

As much as I loved Ali in the novel, Beast was the real star for me. We always see the worst in people, and if we heard about someone like Leo who had been in prison, many of us would write him off as a bad guy. Ali was different and it was a refreshing trait compared to her sister Lila, who only saw the fact that he was an ex-con. I especially loved the fact that Ali was a journalist--I was newspaper obsessed in high school. (I was an editor by sophomore year and then was editor-in-chief senior year). I just loved seeing Ali's passion for journalism and uncovering the truth. 

Beast's and Ali's chemistry in this novel is off the charts. I loved Lila's fire in her personality but it never really translated completely into her relationship with Sonny. Ali and Beast just have this..explosion of emotions. I felt like I was on fire while reading and definitely had moments when I had to take breaks. 

(Actual image of me while reading this book.)

The plot line was also somewhat different from other Elizabeth Reyes books. She had Ali is a much more vulnerable situation than any of her other female protagonists. I almost wish that it had actually happened. I know it sounds bad, but far too often it just happens that the male protagonist busts in before anything can actually happen and it's just not realistic. It would have been interesting to see how it all played out, but I also know that Reyes doesn't like too much sadness in her novels. 

This was definitely one of her more memorable novels and it is already been one that I've reread (twice!).

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars!
*A copy of this novel was provided by the author for an honest review!

Aug 7, 2017

A Perfect Author Panel

Hey guys! So here's something different for today. I am going to be describing my dream panel of authors if I was able to select anyone and had a guarantee of their appearance.

My main purpose was to have authors who write various genres in order to learn how the writing process is different for each genre. Also, for each different genre there are different target age groups and if that effects the research portion of the writing process. This would also allow a lot of people to have interest in the panel because they would at least have one author they may have read or have an interest in.

So, here are the authors I would invite to my dream panel.

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Books: Pushing the Limits, Nowhere But Here 

I think McGarry is a fantastic author who is really good at writing strong characters with dark pasts. She is able to create amazing character arcs within original settings, such as in the Thunder Road series. I think she would really appeal to teens interested in a career in writing, and could appeal to the older audience about research.

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Books: Ready Player One, Armada

Not only could Cline get some amazing promo in for the upcoming movie adaptation of Ready Player One, which I am VERY excited for, but he could also talk about what its like to have his book turned into a movie. That then brings up the topic of book to movie adaptations for all the authors to talk about: how they feel about them, whether they would want their own books to have movies, and to they watch all the movie adaptations.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult Fantasy, Middle Grade
Books: Paranormalcy, And I Darken, Beanstalker

Not only is White a fantastic author, but she writes a variety of genres so she would be able to have a direct comparison of the experiences. From the fairy tales to the Ottoman Empire the level of research must have varied but how did the creative experience change within that?

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Historical Fiction
Books: The Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin

Atwood's science fiction focuses more on social developments where Cline's focus on the science aspects and are geared toward a younger audience. Atwood has been writing for decades now so it would also be interesting to see how her experiences have changed. She would also have a nice contribution to the book to movie adaptations since her book, The Handmaid's Tale, was adapted into an Emmy nominated TV series.

Genre: Biography, Historical Nonfiction
Books: Cleopatra: A Life, The Witches: Salem, 1692

Nonfiction is obviously mostly research so it would be interesting to ask how that affects the creative process of writing a book. Her work is typically read by adults, so how often does she a younger readers picking up her book, and what are their reactions to the read? Also, if she would ever want her book adapted into movies or documentaries. 

This idea came from learning about Eventbrite's tools that allow anyone, anywhere to plan their own events. You can check out their conference planning software here if you'd like to turn your dream panel into a reality. Also, check them out on social media!


Which authors would you invite to your dream panel?

Aug 2, 2017

Cover Reveal: If Ever by Angie Stanton

If Ever
by Angie Stanton
Release Date: August 21, 2017

"Fiercely independent Chelsea Barnes has caught a rare break and been cast as the first non-celebrity on the hit show Celebrity Dance Off. Chelsea is coined ‘America’s Chance to Dance,’ but her partner planned on an A-lister, not a nobody.
Clashing with her partner, she’s ready to go home; but during an emotional dance, her heart-breaking past as an abandoned, homeless teen is revealed. Not only do the viewers fall in love with her, so does the flirty British guest singer, Broadway star Thomas Evan Oliver.
Tom is struck by this feisty girl who complicates his over-structured life, and pursues her in a romantic cross-country courtship until she’s voted off and joins him. Their sexy whirlwind love affair blossoms in New York as she navigates the big city and his exhausting eight shows a week, but most important, her scarred heart begins to heal. Perhaps happily ever after might be a possibility after all."

Angie StantonAngie Stanton is a life-long daydreamer who grew up with her hands on a book and her head in the clouds. As an adult, she’s put her talent to use writing contemporary fiction about life, love, and the adventures that follow. 
Angie is the bestselling author of nine novels. Her work has been translated into French, German, and Bulgarian. In her spare time, Angie sneaks off to New York City to enjoy the best live entertainment experience--Broadway. She is a contributing writer to Broadway World is currently working on another Broadway-themed book.